How Warby Parker got it right

Telling a story

Every store has a story to tell, one that may be a sparks-notes version or one that shares a new (with a homage to the old) adventure. Like flipping through the pages of Narnia or The Never Ending Story, Warby Parker has created a place to lose yourself while imagining who you could be, in new spectacles.

As many companies are turning to e-commerce to grow their audience and boost sales, one digitally-native brand, Warby Parker is taking a different approach by transitioning to a brick-and-mortar approach. Since it’s peak opening in 2017, Warby Parker currently operated 65 retail locations and it’s not alone, with brands such as Away, the luggage company has raised $100M to open 50 stores.

Focus on customer experience

Hermès store in Guangzhou, China recorded stunning sales after the lockdown was relaxed
Hermès store in Guangzhou, China recorded stunning sales after the lockdown was relaxed.

And as the COVID-19 outbreak has taken over the world psyche, it’s also resulted in a desire for social connection and face-to-face connect. Boosting the need for brick and mortar retailing. All over the world, shoppers are going outside to take out their wallets. Take for example the Hermes flagship store in Guangzhou, China that recorded $2.7M in sales on their first day of reopening. And it’s not just luxury retailers, the H&M store in Paris’ Champs-Elysees and Montreal’s downtown Zara have noticed long lines as safety concerns have taken a backseat.

So how did Warby Parker get it right?

By focusing on a story and sharing it with customer throughout their shopping journey.

Purveyors of bookish-ly styled eye-glasses, Warby Parker drew inspiration from bookstores and libraries when designing their retail spaces. Which are clearly evident in their color-coordinated library of props, strategically placed for optimal ambiance.

Creating an instagrammable scene that encourages shoppers to share and promote the store as well as pay homage to the wide spectrum of products and colors available.

Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder of Warby Parker is constantly testing the best approach for enhancing the customer experience, “At any given time, we’re running 10 two-week pilots across the store,” Blumenthal says. One test might vary the location of a button on the tablet-based checkout screen; another might experiment with where certain varieties of frames are displayed. Testing is how the company learned that people prefer trying on their glasses in full length mirrors instead of the small ones that eyeglass stores usually offer. “You’re a whole person,” Blumenthal says, “not just a head.”

The interior architecture is also carefully selected to reflect quality of the brand and product, especially import when offering a product that’s a quarter the price of their more traditional competitors. Drawing on the exceptional craftsmanship of antique/vintage construction, Warby Parker stores use dark wood tones, marble terrazzo floors and gold-trimmed details throughout their stores.

Floor to ceiling cabinetry segments run the perimeter of the stores, lined on the ton to bottoms with colorful literature invites shoppers to peruse the shelves at their own pace. These segmented walls, divided by mirrors create a sense of intimacy within an open floorplan.

The creative team at Warby Parker also successful maintained the boutique feel for this DTC brand as they expand into the physical space, a testament to the brand exquisite design choices. Each store has it’s own personality that seems to reflect the neighborhood and community. Appealing to our own desires to be acknowledged and identify with a certain lifestyle.

As stores reopen, we strongly recommend visiting one of the Warby Parker locations across North America:




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